Archive for January, 2009

There will be blood. And sweeping.

Posted in Homemaking Made Easy, Motherhood, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing with tags , , , on January 31, 2009 by Ms. Ex

You remember that Christmas tree in the photo a few days ago?  It’s gone.  Well, actually, it’s halfway gone.  It is actually standing in the doorway beside me as I type.   See?

The tree, readied for burial.

The tree, readied for burial.

I have been stuck lately, and I can’t seem to get unstuck.  Maybe this will help.

Motherhood Uncensored recently wrote about having to always be on, to always have one ear cocked, so to speak, for the needs:

Where are the baby’s shoes?

Ethan is saying Mommy told him he can have this Hershey bar, can he?

I need to go to my boyfriend’s/Old Navy/karate class/work/school.  Are you ready RIGHT NOW (even though I am and she is not and  she will spend the next 39 minutes changing clothes 37 times only to end up wearing exactly what she’s wearing right now while I am wrestling my two littler ones  into the van and sitting and waiting for her while they scream)?

Let’s play cars again!

I know – I had these children.  I don’t know if that means I shouldn’t talk about how difficult it is.  Do we lose the right to seek reassurance that this rough journey is normal, just because we chose the journey ourselves?

My mother somehow managed to take time off, but she did it by being detached from us.  I hope I am not capable of that.

Anyway, about the tree.  I’m thinking it is actually helping me that the needles will all be on the floor by the time I haul it outside.  I will be forced to sweep, which is always a good thing around here.  And who knows?  Maybe I will find the baby’s shoes.


Fiber Friday Yarn Giveaway!

Posted in Fiber Friday, Giveaway, Knitting with tags , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by Ms. Ex


I had no idea I was so good at marketing myself!  I expected a much smaller response, so I have decided to close this contest earlier than expected.  This way, the odds won’t be so paltry for everyone.  The contest now officially closes at noon EST February 1st.  Please remember that I cannot ship internationally, so if you do not have a U.S. mailing address, you cannot win.  Of course, you can still comment if you like.  I will use that random integer program doo-dad to generate a number, and I will announce the winner by 3 pm February 1st.  That’s tomorrow for all of you who, like me, normally have no idea what the date is.

And fear not!  There will be more giveaways coming.  I will likely stick to needle arts supplies, and I will try to highlight WAHM wares.  So if you make something beautiful for knitters and crocheters and would like some advertising for the low cost of a donated prize item, let me know!

Thank you all so much for participating, and for entertaining me.  And I do hope you’ll be back to follow me shamelessly using my dysfunction as writing fodder.  I am so relieved to find I am not the only one who hides in the bathroom, and I cannot wait to try knitting in the bathtub.

Well, here it is:  the first Fiber Friday giveaway.  I decided to donate my own handiwork to the cause and offer up this lusciously soft, hand-painted 100Purewool 3-ply yarn.  If you aren’t familiar with Purewool, they are a wonderful supplier of Uruguayan hand dyed merino and corriedale wool yarns in a variety of weights and some really fun colorways.  This was a natural three ply yarn that I hand painted in shades of eggplant, brown, maroon, orange, and some purples and blues.

It knits up beautifully, as you can see in the photo below.  It seems that when I paint yarn I always love it so much I have to keep some for myself.  This skein is worsted weight at 218 yards and 3.5 ounces.  One skein would probably do a pair of shorties (hint, hint!) or some fun baby hats and booties.  Or you could actually knit something for yourself for a change.  Be decadent.  You’re worth it.

Or maybe not, what do I know?

So here’s the scoop:  Leave me a comment telling me the weirdest place you’ve found yourself knitting or crocheting.  I’ll tell you mine:  on a bus in NYC after a day of kicking around town.  My baby was attached to my breast.  I’m a multitasker, what can I say?

And you don’t win by being the weirdest.  I already occupy that spot.

Instead, I will choose the winner from both entries by randomly drawing a name  from the empty bucket of Sam’s Club cheese balls that I finished off the other night.

I promise not to get artificial cheese powder on your yarn.

I’ll announce the winner next Friday, February 6.  Comments will close at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 5.  Please note this contest is for U.S. Shipping addresses ONLY.  Pass it on!

Sheepy Pants

Norwegian Wood Hand Painted Yarn: Sheepy Pants

Sheepy Pants in Norwegian Wood

Sheepy Pants in Norwegian Wood

If you don’t know about Sheepy Pants, go check them out.  It is absolutely the best pattern out there.  Amanda Harrington (the awesome designer) does an excellent job of explaining all the different techniques, including the kitchener stitch.

Oh, the Complexity

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by Ms. Ex

Two mommy bloggers I follow both posted some similar opinions on the same day.  Their topics were totally different, but their points of view are the same:  there is no one-size-fits-all answer to any kind of parenting question.

In Misplaced Musings‘ post, the issue was homeschooling, and the question “How do homeschoolers get socialized?” came up.   Well, not just that, but that seems to be the biggest issue opponents are drawn to.  Both sides can often do a lousy job of convincing anyone of their positions.  The same goes for circumcision: is circucision safe?  Should I circumcise my son?   Different women’s feelings were shared  in Finslippy’s video from Momversation.

What I really drew from these was affirmation about the efforts I’ve been making to be comfortable with shades of gray.  All of us want easy answers, we want to be right, we want to be able to say, “I am doing the right thing.”

But Mighty Girl’s Maggie Mason made the observation (and I’m quoting Finslippy here) that often “we feel that in order for our opinion to be right, we have to make sure that everyone who feels differently is wrong.”

I don’t believe my thought processes are the well-oiled machine they would need to be to to make me stand up and say You Are Wrong to someone who disagrees with me.  I am not convinced I have enough brain cells left holding hands to formulate my argument.  I am learning as I grow up not to jump into conversations about certain issues.  I like to stand back and watch and figure out what everyone needs to come away with.  I have considered at times that this makes me a poor debater.  I look wishy washy.  But if everyone leaves a conversation feeling that they were heard, well…that means maybe they’ll be back.

And I’ll be ready.

Too Much

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , on January 28, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I want to stay home.  I really do.  But somehow, between getting the teenager to work, the four year old to school and OT, and me to my own therapy (which includes, on occasion, knitting at the Starlight Cafe), I end up in the van.  A lot.

Sometimes it’s just a distraction from the difficulty of keeping big brother from gnawing off his little brother’s arm, or knocking the head off of another nine iron by swinging it into the 100 year old pillars supporting the porch.  And sometimes it’s just life.  Appointments, obligations, errands.

Today, when I gave middle guy the run down of our afternoon, he said, “But mom, I just want to go home.  That’s too much for me!”

He’s right; it’s too much for anyone.  I have to find a way to slow down the attention deficient brain in this head, to quit just trying to get through each day and waiting for the end.

What makes a person able to be still?  A skill I’m learning in therapy (Superlagirl, you are not alone!) is mindfulness.  I’m supposed to be fully present in each moment, not eating a Butterfinger-crunch pie from Burger King organic hummus with a fork while I drive my kids around town listening to “Another Phonics Rule” and Trout Fishing in America.

So for the first time, I would like to pose a question.  How do you make yourself stop and focus?  Is there some inner signal that tells you it’s “too much” before you need a straight jacket and I.V. Jack Daniels?

I’d like to learn to stop before it’s too late.

We Don’t Need no Stinkin’ Cats (in Hats)

Posted in Homemaking Made Easy, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing with tags , , on January 27, 2009 by Ms. Ex

“Too wet to go out
And too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house.
We did…”


He's the life of the party.  Yes.  My Christmas tree is still up.  No, it's not artificial.

He's the life of the party. Yes. My Christmas tree is still up. No, it's not artificial.

and THIS:

The joys of shredding.

The joys of shredding.

and that’s all.

Heartbreak Hotel

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by Ms. Ex

The other day I had the distinct pleasure of being able to say the following words to my teenager with a straight face:

“You had a healthier emotional upbringing than that.”

The conversation started because her on again off again boyfriend is back, and the girl he dated in the interim is none too happy.  She caused quite the ruckus in school a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m not saying my daughter is the picture of mental health.  She is, after all, my offspring.  But the other girl?  Can you say ‘borderline personality disorder’?  Hey, it takes one to know one.

My heart went out to her, really.  Which made me try to elicit some compassion from my daughter, or at least some graciousness in her victory in this love war.  But for some reason, even with all her vast life experience, she just can’t manage it.  Huh.

Anyway, I keep thinking about what I said to my daughter.  Do I really believe her upbringing was healthier than mine?  Sometimes I don’t.  It certainly didn’t start out that way, at least.  And it seems the things I most wanted to protect her from are already in play.

I don’t know how much of a chance I ever had as a parent.  And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is hearing that sometimes, just wanting to do the right thing can get you halfway there.

I have told her, perhaps too many times, that I don’t want her to be like me.  I don’t want her to go through what I did.  And she tells me it’s her greatest desire.  To not be like me.

I tell her that sometimes,  it’s mine too.

Wooly Bully: Watch it Now, Watch It!

Posted in Cloth Diapering, Fiber Friday, Knitting, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2009 by Ms. Ex

It’s Fiber Friday again, and as I promised, I am about to send you down rabbit holes aplenty and I guarantee you will never change a cloth diaper again because you will be too busy clicking around the fabulous sites for eco-minded moms.

If you are new to cloth diapering in general Green Mountain Diapers is an easy site to navigate and is written in a welcoming way.  They are very good at making you feel that you can easily manage this whole cloth diapering thing.  While they are an on-line store carrying a huge variety of diapering supplies, they also offer simple, clear help for all aspects of using cloth.  Best of all, they understand real world problems like the difference between breastfeeding poop and solid food poop.  Did I mention practicality?  Amen.

By the way, they aren’t giving me any kickbacks, though I wouldn’t mind some free samples.  Ya hear me out there??  Check out their FAQ section, and also look for the link to the lanolizing video.

Another site that is full of great info plus excellent reviews of the various products is diaper pin.  If you just don’t know which kind of diapers to buy, check out the review section.  They also have many helpful tips and simple instructions for laundering all kinds of cloth and covers.

If you are frugal like me, check out Diaper Swappers.  They have bunches of forums for buying, selling, or trading all things to do with cloth, and some things that don’t.  They even sometimes run group buys so you can get your hands on yummy wool yarn for cheap.  Just hang out and click around for a while, and you’ll start to understand how the whole things works.  Or maybe you are not like me, and you already understand the Internets.  Bully for you.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  The knitty gritty:  wool links.

For those of you who are new to wool and have questions, or who are seasoned veterans and have experience to share, the wool soaker group on Yahoo! is a great resource, not to mention a fun place to hang with other cloth-diapering moms.  One thing, though: it will make you joyfully squander most of the attention you used to give to your home and children.  And if you start to see women from the group* in the news and you tell someone, “Hey, that’s a friend of mine!” it might be time to expand your horizons.

If you want to make your own recycled sweater longies, here and here are two free patterns with great photos to guide you.  I prefer the style of the DIY one (the second link), because the thighs are more roomy.  They are so simple to make.

If you are not a seamstress or crafty person, recycled longies and knitted ones from WAHMs (Work at Home Moms, if you are new to the acronym world) can be found used on the Diaper Swappers site or new on Etsy.  You can search by title and tags on etsy, which means you can narrow your search by things like color, which is pretty cool.  You can look for items made from recycled fabric from sweaters, or hand knit longies and soakers.  You could search for say, longies heart.  And you might come up with something adorable like this (yes, I am shameless).  Support handmade, be kind to the planet, and get some groovy gear for your favorite babe.

If you still haven’t gone to bed even though it’s two in the morning, here are a few more fun links to keep you going until the baby wakes up in a couple of hours.  They are in no particular order, and simply add to the basic information you now have in your arsenal.  Have fun, and don’t forget to eat.

An eBay guide for Wool Diaper Covers (take or leave the ‘scientific’ info on antibacterialism and self-cleansing; it doesn’t detract from the value of the article)

The Diaper Hyena on wool (includes some purchasing links)

Tiny Birds Organics wool (I LOVE her stuff – so adorable.  And I know from experience that the wool fabric she uses is the softest stuff around.  She offers many different products, but also has great info)

A couple of final notes:  a wool cover is great, but is really only as good as the diaper underneath.  If you have a heavy wetter, you will need to boost the absorbency of your diapers with a doubler, or use a more absorbent diaper to start with.  Sometimes compression wicking can occur when your baby is wet and the wool cover is pressed tightly to the diaper (think tight car seat straps or baby pressed against you in a sling or carrier).  Generally this just means that the cover will feel damp and any clothing over it can get damp.  If your baby is wearing wool as clothing and cover, I find that this dampness evaporates fairly quickly once the baby is out in the open air.  Just prepare for this possibility by putting a layer between you and the baby in a front carrier or having an extra absorbent diaper on him.

To felt or not to felt:  felting is the process of matting the wool fibers together and making a tougher, thicker fabric.  It also shrinks the fabric (you remember that cute sweater you accidentally washed on hot water?  now it’s felted).  For an extremely heavy wetter, sometimes a felted cover is the best option, but the wool loses its stretch when felted, so the fabric will feel stiffer and be less flexible.  One alternative to felting is using a double layer of wool, an extra wool soaker sewn into the crotch, or only felting slightly.  I can often get just enough extra thickness to the wool but still maintain its flexibility by keeping an eye on it while I machine wash it in hot water.  I remove it when I am happy with the thickness.  Of course, this should be done before you cut your pattern.  Shrinkage and all.

Thank you for joining me for another exciting episode of Fiber Friday.  I have no idea what our topic will be for next week.  Hope you like surprises!

*Emma Kwasnica (whose name I became familiar with from the wool soaker group) was photographed tandem nursing her two wee ones, and Facebook subsequently deleted her account, ostensibly because of those photos.  The whole story and a letter from her can be read here.